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Disputed Election Underscores Moldova’s Democratic Deficit

Anti-corruption campaigner was poised to become Chisinau’s mayor until the courts stepped in.

29 June 2018

Moldova’s prime minister heard a lecture from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Washington this week.


Pompeo “reminded” Pavel Filip that “free and fair elections are a hallmark of a democratic government and must reflect the will of the country’s citizens without political interference” – most likely a reference to the disputed mayoral election in the country’s capital, Chisinau.


Andrei Nastase. Image via Andy.redbrick/Wikipedia Commons.


The Moldovan Supreme Court voided the election Monday, upholding a lower court ruling cancelling the result of the vote that seemed to deliver the mayor’s office to anti-corruption campaigner Andrei Nastase, Balkan Insight reports.


Nastase captured 52.57 percent of the popular vote in the 3 June runoff, beating Socialist Party candidate Ion Ceban by five percentage points.


The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court argument that both candidates resorted to illegal use of social media in the campaign. Its decision cannot be appealed, RFE/RL writes.


Nastase ran on a pro-Western platform, contrasting Ceban’s pro-Russian stance, RFE says. The Moldovan presidency is held by Socialist Igor Dodon, a firm supporter of stronger ties with Russia, while Filip’s government favors more integration with the European Union.


EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Wednesday urged Moldova to take “appropriate measures” and show respect for the popular vote, Balkan Insight says.


They spoke of the “democratic values and the rule of law [which] are also at the heart of the European Union's relations with the Republic of Moldova, as our Association Agreement testifies.”


Filip rejected the idea that his government played a role in the court decision, The Washington Post reports.


Protests against the decision were held daily since the lower court’s original ruling on 20 June. Nastase has also called for protests.



  • The kind of election-day campaigning Nastase and Ceban did has been upheld by other European courts, RFE says.


  • Nastase’s Dignity and Truth Platform has organized numerous protests against corruption since 2015, when a huge money-laundering scandal shook the country, the Post writes.


  • The election was called to replace Liberal Party Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca, who stepped down in February after being investigated for influence peddling, RFE reported 22 June. Acting Mayor Silvia Radu will hold the position until new elections next year.


Compiled by Valentine Sargent

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The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

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